Athabasca glacier tongue front Icefields Parkway

Location: Jasper National Park. Canada

In Jasper National Park, facing the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre lies the Athabasca Glacier, a tongue of ice 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) long and one km wide (0.6 miles). This glacier is one of the six principal "toes" of the Columbia Icefield, located in the Canadian province of Alberta in the Rocky Mountains (see map below).

The glacier currently recedes at a rate of 2–3 metres (6.6–9.8 ft) per year and has receded more than 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in the past 125 years and lost over half of its volume. The glacier moves down from the icefield at a rate of several centimetres per day! Currently it covers an area of 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi) and is measured to be between 90–300 metres (300–980 ft) thick.

Due to its close proximity to the Icefields Parkway and its easy accessibility, it is the most visited glacier in North America. You can actually hike to the very front of the massive ice tongue, although travel onto the glacier is not recommended unless properly equipped. Hidden crevasses have led to the deaths of unprepared tourists in the past.

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